A world of the living dead and their slaves

Night of the Living Dead Reanimated

A friend commented on the “who is in charge?” blog.  He saw another complication and ambiguity in the advances in medicine and science – the increasing number of children with serious handicaps that might, without modern science, have died.  That certainly is one of the reasons for the increase in health care costs for children – millions of children living now would have died at birth, or soon after, at any other period in human history.  I focused, because I am old, on the old side of the equation, but there is just as much of an issue on the opposite side – the very young.  Both groups contain a significant percentage of individuals existing only through the graces of science; and both groups promise to create serious challenges for society in the future.

The old will increasingly argue for choice, the right to opt out.   I remember how sad my mother was when the last friend of her generation died and left her alone; no one called her by the name of her youth, no remembered when she was young and pretty, and no one really knew her or her times.  That did not mean she did not love us or wanted to die, but she stopped wanting to live forever and started to see death as a relief from the struggles of life.   I have know other people who expressed the same thought, the “I am ready to die” thought.   As science extends the potential of life, that will become much more of an issue; people will want the right to choose when they have had enough.  And they will not be alone, reasonable and thoughtful people will also begin to understand the longer people live the more people will be living on the planet; and they will realize that all of those very old people, except those with enough wealth to be self-sustaining, will be a burden to those who are young enough to be working.

If you combine those two groups; the very old  and the not old, but not completely functional either,  you have a huge segment of the population which must be supported.  Our society might become like a bad science fiction movie, millions of living dead, living but unable to care for themselves, ruling the world.  They would rule it by virtue of forcing the rest of the population of the world into indentured servitude; working to keep them alive.  And if you had that kind of a twist to your mind you might envision a script for that movie where all humans on the planet were trapped by science in lives of misery – one group working for decades without a break to support the living dead – and the other group the living dead, held frozen – alive, but unable to live.  Cruelest of all, the workers would work and work without any hope of relief; they would work, not until they could retire, but until they too became one of the living dead.  And George Orwell thought he had a nightmare.  In our combined genius we are creating a  monster – one made of the fabric of science and technology – that might, if we let it, will take over all of human society and place it into a terrifying world of slave workers and living dead.   There are some very big decisions coming;  always choosing life over death, as we have traditionally done,  will not be so simple or so obviously right.


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May 2012
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